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Prednisone for dogs with cancer??

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Anyone else have a dog with cancer?
We've opted not to do chemo (the vet seemed pretty against it), and the vet gave us Prednisone to give Brooke, who was just dx'ed with lymphosarcoma.
I've been giving it to her for about 4 days. I looked up some info on it, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable giving it to her. Lots of side effects, and some icky. It's already making her super hungry, but otherwise she seems fine on it. But...who knows how it will affect her from now on.
She was doing just fine before I started giving it to her. Would it be ok to wean her off of it, then hold off on it until she starts to feel bad?
Is there a benefit to starting it sooner rather than later?

All the info on it in re: to canine cancer leads me to believe that it does very little to nothing to lengthen their lives, it just helps keep them comfortable.

She weighs 75lbs, and we are giving her 1/2 pill a day.

I'm also giving her some herbal supplements, if that makes any difference.

Anyone with experience?
post #2 of 21
I personally would give the pred. Is it a nasty drug? YES, however, cancer is a nasty disease. You have to weigh out side effects. I'm on prednisone for life. I remember before my addison's status was known (so before we knew I needed pred just to stay alive) my ever so smart MIL told me that I should stop taking that pred because of the horrible side effect--that's great and yeah, I've got rougly 80 lbs of side effects to show for 4 yrs of pred use, but the side effect at that time to me not taking it would have been a wheel chair, when I considered the side effects of NOT taking it, I could handle the side effects of taking it.
Pred acts to stop an over active immune system. Lymphoma especially is thought to be a case of the body attacking itself, the body is tricked into making more cancer cells to attack healthy cells. There isn't "firm" evidence of it extending life because every cancer is different so even with controlled studies, it's impossible to KNOW if dog A lived longer because of the pred or if dog A's cancer just moved at a different rate, kwim??
Having seen dogs turn around and go from death's door to feeling ok and having good quality of life after a couple days of pred, I have to believe that by placing them on it at diagnosis we can help them live longer. Pred HAS been shown to decrease tumor size substantially.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many dogs are simply so stoic and she may not show she's uncomfortable until the very end. Sheena's old boy Dillon, died after he'd been diving into the quarry all morning chasing a ball. He never slowed down even a bit, he came home, was put in the yard to dry off and 30 minutes later they found him dead. At autopsy we found he was FULL of tumors, like just packed, and they mett'd to every bloody organ. But he went out the way he lived, with a bang and never showed any signs of pain or discomfort.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
ok. Thanks for that. It does help.
And, yes. Brooke could definitely be one of those dogs that just keeps on going strong until the very end. I never really thought of that.

I've read about vets recommending giving pred every other day, rather than every day. I think it's a double dose every other day.
Our vet didn't mention that, but I'm wondering if that would be a good way to go?

Also, what about herbal remedies that act as immune stimulants? Are those no good, if the purpose of prednisone is to depress the immune system? The vet told us that we could do whatever herbal treatments we wanted.

Thanks again for the info! My main goal is to keep Brookie as happy and feeling as good as possible. (so I feel GREAT giving them raw foods!)
post #4 of 21
I agree with Shannon about the pred. It can be a nasty drug, but it is also a miracle drug. Long term it can cause Diabetes, weight gain, bone density loss, poor dentition, increased risk of infection, among others. However, in your case, it is mainly to help your dog feel better. It will reduce pain, give her more energy, and a good appetite. She'll want to drink more too, so just be aware that if you aren't taking her out more often that she may mess in the house.

My previous Golden had a nasal tumor that was very fast growing. At his age (almost 12) we elected to not do anything aggressive, but we did give prednisone. What a great drug for him. It really gave him his bounce back and allowed him to enjoy a few more months with us.

I'm sorry again about your doggie :
post #5 of 21
We put our dog on pred, she was dx w/ liver cancer in early August and had stopped eating and drinking for nearly a week. Once the pred kicked in, she got her appetite back and it was so wodnerful! The vet predicted a couple weeks to a couple months at most and she went on to live 4 more months. And most of those 4 months, she seemed really happy - eating, playing, walking, chasing the ball, snuggling with us. My husband slacked off a little on the pred for awhile, doing every other day, because her appetite went up too much - she was prowling for food, counter surfing, stealing from the kids, basically all kinds of bad habits. But then she stopped eating again, so we went back to daily until the end.

Yeah, long term use would probably not be a good idea, but for us, it was a tool to help extend the quality of life for our dear pup for 4 more months. We appreciate each day of that we were allowed to spend with her, with her being happy.
post #6 of 21
A friend of mine had a cat who was diagnosed with some sort of oral/nasal cancer....the vet gave the cat limited time and said chemo wouldn't be worth it in her case. The steroids they gave the cat actually allowed the cat to live almost another YEAR after she was diagnosed! Of course, in her case the cancer was diagnosed rather early (during a routine vet visit the vet noticed it).
post #7 of 21
So sorry about your dog......

OUr dog had a rare kidney disease that was late diagnosed, and we put her on pred and she lived for another full year. I was also giving her Collustrum, which helped alot too. I was lucky to have a holistic vet who worked at the regular vets. Ill always treasure that last year with my dog. She was her old self again until the very end.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks all. I'm going to keep her on it, but I think I will move to every other day for now, and see how that goes with her. I skipped the day before yesterday, and gave it to her yesterday, and she did GREAT. Her appetite was normal (she wasn't starving like a few days ago) and she seemed very comfortable all day (she was panting and seeming really uncomfortable a few days ago).
So we'll keep an eye on her tumors, and how she's feeling and go from there.

Thanks again! Your stories really did help with my decision
post #9 of 21
Deva, my dog has cancer too. It is inoperable, he is 10 1/2, and we chose not to use chemo for him also.

When the tumor got really big a few months ago, the vet said he would not live to see the end of the week. They sent us home with a course of injectable steriods, pain meds and antibiotics, "just to make him more comfortable". It worked so well, he really responded better to it than I could have dared dream. He is SO much better now... although I can still feel the lump, it is not impacting his breathing or eating. I am so grateful to have a few more months with the best dog in the universe
post #10 of 21
Hi there. Just wanted to share my story. No one can make these decisions but you, of course.

Our doberman was diagnosed with lymphoma - it was caught pretty early on. We did a round of chemo including prednisone.

That kept him going strong (and the chemo didn't seem to bother him too much) for another year, after the chemo stopped.

Then the cancer came back, pretty strong. My vet, and the medical center that gave him cancer, both indicated that most dogs don't do well in the 2nd round of chemo... most don't even make it all the way through the treatment. So, like you, we opted not to do that.

We did give him pred for the last part of his life... probably a week or less. It did seem to help stave off some of the cancer, and keep him more comfortable. Of course at this stage it was a much more advanced stage of cancer, we were not treating it so much as trying to keep him happy for a few days longer.

My biggest worry was that in our selfish desire to keep him alive, we would keep him here in pain and miserable. I can tell you, you will know when it is time. A friend who has been through this with me told me that, and I didn't believe her. But it's true. Whatever course of treatment you decide on, when and if the cancer has become too much, you will just know. With our doberman, he was fine one day and about 1.5 days later, my ex-DH (we were together at the time) and I looked at each other, and we knew it was time.

I'm really sorry for what you're going through and will be thinking of you.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for sharing your stories.
I did cut the pred down to every other day, and she has no se from it. She is acting perfectly fine. Since she's comfortable with every other day, and less comfortable with pred every day, I'm glad I'm doing every other day.

Thanks! And at least now, when it comes to the point, I will have no problem doubling the dose every other day (which would leave us with the prescribed 2 day dose, every other day), then go to every day as prescribed.

Thanks again, to everyone for sharing your stories and opinions, and thoughts.

Becky
post #12 of 21
Our dog had nose cancer and our vet used acupuncture and laser therapy with good success. He lived a lot longer than he would have untreated and was much more comfortable we believe. We used an antihistimine at night to dry his nasal cavity so he wouldn't sneeze and get a good sleep. I thought prednisone was an immune system inhibitor and I probably WOULDN'T use it. I realize naturopathic vets are hard to come by though so I can't say what I would do if I did not have that option.

I loved my old dog and he had a great life. He was 12 when he died which is getting on for a yellow lab/golden retreiver cross but if I was to do it again I would put him to sleep sooner. When he died and suddenly looked like a puppy again I cried and thought I had made a mistake until we saw the extent of his cancer and what he must have been uncomplainingly suffering with to stay with us. I think we have to be careful with the loyalty of dogs possible leading to their staying with us even though they suffer.

I empathize with what you are going through and sending healing thoughts.
post #13 of 21
antannie, yes, pred is an immunosuppresant. However, most cancers come down to the body attacking itself, thus an immune system that has turned on itself. It's like my arthritis, I need pred to cool out my immune system that has chosen to attack my joints. I do take healthy immune boosters at the same time as the pred though. Sometimes our bodies just attack themselves and it's at those times that prednisone is a miracle drug.

Becky, on to your dog. I had lunch today with a tech I used to work with at the referral clinic. She still works with the veterinary internist. He was one of the pioneers of chemo in dogs and I asked him about the pred for your girl.
His recomendation was that you give the pred daily, reason being, in a young, otherwise healthy dog, if you can shut the cancer down with the pred, remissions of a year or more are quite common. Every other day dosing will keep a sick dog comfortable but every day dosing has an excellent chance of putting a fairly early lymphoma in remission. (I knew it was supposed to be better but couldn't remember why....I've been out of practice for a while now!)
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shannon0218 View Post
Becky, on to your dog. I had lunch today with a tech I used to work with at the referral clinic. She still works with the veterinary internist. He was one of the pioneers of chemo in dogs and I asked him about the pred for your girl.
His recomendation was that you give the pred daily, reason being, in a young, otherwise healthy dog, if you can shut the cancer down with the pred, remissions of a year or more are quite common. Every other day dosing will keep a sick dog comfortable but every day dosing has an excellent chance of putting a fairly early lymphoma in remission. (I knew it was supposed to be better but couldn't remember why....I've been out of practice for a while now!)
Interesting! Thank you so much for thinking to ask that, and to post the answer! That is so cool of you.

Now...jeez, I thought I'd come up with the perfect solution. Gah. lol. Now I have to change it all up!
post #15 of 21
No problem, she was finishing up with a patient when I got there so that left my old boss and I standing there without conversation Believe it or not I'm actually VERY shy, so your dog saved me a lot of sweating
post #16 of 21
On every-other-day dosing: I took prednisone for two years, and there were some months where for various reasons I would take it every other day, or a high dose one day and low dose the next day. The no-pred and low-pred days, I felt AWFUL. I ached all over. This may be the case for dogs too, so I wouldn't do an every-other-day regimen if every day was a reasonable alternative. It doesn't sound as though this dog is going to live long enough : for the side effects to become a huge problem.
post #17 of 21
Oh, I just wanted to add that, for our doberman, when he was on prednisone, the only side effects we noticed were pretty mild... he needed to pee a fair amount, drank some more water, ate some more, and that was pretty much it.

HTH.
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
On every-other-day dosing: I took prednisone for two years, and there were some months where for various reasons I would take it every other day, or a high dose one day and low dose the next day. The no-pred and low-pred days, I felt AWFUL. I ached all over. This may be the case for dogs too, so I wouldn't do an every-other-day regimen if every day was a reasonable alternative. It doesn't sound as though this dog is going to live long enough : for the side effects to become a huge problem.
Very interesting. The ONLY reason I wanted to do every other day was to keep her feeling MORE comfortable! lol.
She acted totally normal when we did the every other day. The only thing that even gave us a hint that she was uncomfortable was on the pred days, and she would start panting a lot at night, but not for a long time.
But with every day pred, she got super hungry and panted a lot more of the time, and just had times when she seemed uncomfortable.

I will keep in mind that she might be achy on an every other day schedule. I just want my dog to be as comfortable as possible! hehehe It's tough when they can't really tell us, kwim? I can definitely see Brooke being achy and not showing it.

We are doing the every day thing, and just going to reevaluate after a week or so, seeing how she feels.

I really really appreciate that people are still offering opinions and stories on this! Thanks
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deva33mommy View Post
Also, what about herbal remedies that act as immune stimulants? Are those no good, if the purpose of prednisone is to depress the immune system? The vet told us that we could do whatever herbal treatments we wanted.

Thanks again for the info! My main goal is to keep Brookie as happy and feeling as good as possible. (so I feel GREAT giving them raw foods!)
I'm glad you opted to not do chemo and to use palliative measures for your dog. Prednisone IS a really NASTY drug, but it is also a wonder drug. (I know 'cause it saved my life years ago) Anyway, keep your dog on it. It will slow the progression of the cancer, decrease inflammation, and keep her more comfortable.

I don't know a lot about herbal remedies comparable to prednisone, but wanted to let you know that corticosteroids are immunosuppressants, not stimulants.
post #20 of 21
Thanks cor clearing that up for me Shannon0218

Annie
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